Friday, December 19, 2008

Hope (n.)

The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.

“To hope” was borrowed from Low German: hoffen- to hop (v.) on the notion of “leaping in expectation”.

Advent is the church season that is pregnant with hope; like the adolescent Mary. Every pregnant woman knows the hope she carries within her body. The first recognizable movement, the leaping baby within, is a beautiful and unforgettable experience. For me, the word hope will relate to the experiential with each recalling of my own (now adult) child’s leaping within me. The unborn child is a mystery. What will this child look like? What will this child grow up to be? What will this child’s future bring? With the growing physical presence of the unborn, each mother desires and prays for the future good for her child, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.

The future of the unborn generations to come, however, is being significantly compromised by those charged with the stewardship of the planet today: you and me. In her commencement address to the 2008 graduating class of Duke University, novelist Barbara Kingsolver challenges them to march forth with hope. She ends her address with a poem written for the class. I trust that Barbara will forgive the reproduction without permission here. For me, Kingsolver – a university-trained biologist and remarkable storyteller (The Poisonwood Bible) - captures the essence of hope. After reading the poem, I invite you to listen to the complete address.

Hope; An Owner’s Manual

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heatstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

To keep it humming, sometimes you have to stand
on an incline, where everything looks possible;
on the line you drew yourself. Or in
the grocery line, making faces at the toddler
secretly, over his mother’s shoulder.

You might have to pop the clutch and run
past all the evidence. Past everyone who is
laughing or praying for you. Definitely you don’t
want to go directly to jail, but still, here you go,
passing time, passing strange. Don’t pass this up.

In the worst of times, you will have to pass it off.
Park it and fly by the seat of your pants. With nothing
in the bank, you’ll still want to take the express.
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping
in the shade of your future. Pay at the window.
Pass your hope like a bad cheque.
You still might have enough time. To make a deposit.
Nicola Adair

No comments: